We’ve not left the European Union just yet but whether in or not, Cross Country races will always attract interesting continental European contenders and it’s worth backing Kapville to strike a blow for the French in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap (3.05). Twice placed in the Anjou-Loire Challenge, the ten-year-old is a veteran of the sphere in France and whilst he comes here 3lbs out of the handicap, he is in good form as his last win at Lyon Parilly shows and he is still value despite the collapse in his price from 50/1 from 9am to 16/1 at the time of writing. Kingswell Theatre took the C&D event at the Open and should go well even if up 6lbs here in a race full of fascinating contenders.
It’s interesting to note that Matada Supreme, who got the better of Josies Orders by a head at Punchestown, is now 15lbs better off and he’s more than three times the price; The worry is that he finished well beaten on his only previous start here in the 2015 renewal of this contest
Tiger Roll came alive when faced with something like a decent surface to take the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, and is slightly interesting off his mark, and if More Of That takes to this test then he needs to be taken seriously and perhaps the pair are in running choices. Cantlow also ought to be heavily involved at the end.
The Unicoin Group Handicap Chase (2.30) is going to be a real slog and Robinsfirth can keep the title at Colin Tizzard’s for the second year running. His fourth on his reappearance here at the Showcase, when Cogry beat Singlefarmpayment with Doing Fine in third, looks to be the strongest form and he found Only Chase The Spud too strong on atrocious ground at Haydock last time out. This will be a soggy affair but hopefully not that testing, and he can go close again. Wotizname has a whole host of improvement to come following his good win at Exeter and should go well whilst a fine first time out record. Shanroe Santos, Southfield Theatre, and Abracadabra Sivola need respect but those three-stand tall over the rest of the field.
Earlier, the Catesby Handicap Hurdle (1.20) is a fiercely contested race but if Remiluc manages to repeat his excellent Newbury effort of last time then he ought to go really well. He found only the Greatwood Hurdle third Old Guard too good that day with the highly rated and very solid Air Horse one just behind. In fourth was Master Dance, a previous dual winner who came fresh into the race off a 10-length winning margin. Former Tony Martin inmate Okotoks moves to the Fergal O’Brien yard and starts on what looks to be a good mark based on Irish form – when fourth in the Paddy Power’ You Beauty’ Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas subsequent winners of the Coral.ie Hurdle, Coral Cup, along with the runner-up of the Galway Hurdle – whilst Smaoineamh Alainn is 2 from 2 hurdling and can go further. Look out for Alex Ferguson, who’s taking 7lbs off the previous Fontwell winner Raven’s Tower.
The closing Citipost Handicap Hurdle (3.40) could be a struggle after six previous races on this ground but it still should be easier than the Haydock slog thatThe Dutchman had when second – and a remote one at that – in the Fixed Brush hurdle. If that hasn’t left a mark, then this should be within his remit and whilst it’s hard to know how to rate the form given the conditions, he looks on a good mark.
The fact that Sparking River has a heavy ground success maker her the most tempting of those in the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase (2.10) along with Song Saa, who was at his best when second at Worcester latest, but none of them make quite enough appeal to put forward here.
In the Horse Comes First Novices’ Chase (12.45) any of the four could be seen as a worthy favourite. Sizing Tennessee is a worthy favourite, but his jumping has let him down twice and his step through the second at Ascot was a worrying error which suggested he’s to be treated with caution. Coastal Tiep didn’t jump brilliantly when he was second at Aintree. It’s hard to know what to make of the form of his latest win in a three-runner field but he saw off a useful horse in Flintham and did so by 16 lengths; This ground will also not be a problem.
Tintern Theatre’s close and improved fourth in a novices’ handicap chase entitles him to significant respect here.
In the opening British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle, the form of Sommerville Boy’s close second to Slate House at the November meeting probably sets the standard for what’s been achieved over hurdles and he also gets a good amount of weight from the next two in the market, Lalor and Western Ryder. Both were good bumper horses, with Lawlor taking the Aintree Bumper when Western Ryder was third.
Western Ryder had been held up out of his ground – for the second spring festival in a row – but was possibly feeling the efforts of a long season which included a listed win at Ascot too and a second giving a lot of weight to the very smart Daphne De Clos. After unseating on his hurdling debut, he was an easy winner of his hurdling debut when coping well with Chepstow’s heavy ground, and should be a good marker for the form level in this race, which looks strong on paper.
Also worth noticing is the six-length Taunton winner Shoal Bay, who won in a fashion that suggested he could take a penalty. The six-length second, Contented, has since won by seven lengths, and he could be an each/way option. Some Man showed plenty of promise on his debut when fourth after making a mistake at the last but both he and first-time hurdles winner Spice Girl must improve.
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1.20 Cheltenham – 1 pt each/way Remiluc (15/2 Paddy Power)
2.30 Cheltenham – 1 pt win Robinsfirth (3/1 general)
3.05 Cheltenham – 1 pt each/way Kapville (16/1 general)
3.40 Cheltenham – 1 pt win The Dutchman (5/1 general)